Social distancing can take a toll on mental health: ‘Anybody can be affected by this’

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MILWAUKEE -- Continued social distancing will be key in ending the coronavirus pandemic, but it could also take a toll on mental health. Psychologists encourage safe socialization.

Steven Dykstra Ph.D., a psychologist with the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division

"Because of the way we're being asked to socially distance ourselves from each other, there is the risk that isolation will become a major problem in their lives," Dr. Steven Dykstra, a clinical psychologist with the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, said.

Dykstra says it is important to make a route.

"Anybody can be affected by this. This is a major disruption in the way we live, in the way we work, in the way we socialize," he said. "We're cut off from people, and we're cut off from our routines, and that's going to really affect people and it is."

Video chats are a great way to still have a face-to-face conversation with someone who you may normally see in person. Social media can also be a great tool for sharing ideas for interacting and keeping your family busy. But watch out for negative content online.

"If you get too much of it, if you spend too much time with it, it becomes scary and overwhelming," said Dykstra. "We need to support each other as much as we can."

At times when it is overwhelming, Dykstra suggests staying focused on what we are trying to accomplish through social distancing -- saving the lives of people we will never meet.

"Because of what you're doing and what I'm doing and what the people watching this are doing, because of that, we're saving lives," Dykstra said. "We're saving lives together, and we should not lose sight of that. When this is over, and it will be over, we are going to collectively celebrate that together because we are all soldiers in a vast, vast army, and we're going to remember that for the rest of our lives."

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